Every Night the ACLU Lawyer Will Have to Come Home and Scrub Scrub Scrub

The ACLU is defending the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals. That gig’s gotta suck. I think the members of the Westboro Baptist Church are hateful little worms who ought to fall down a sewer drain and receive an entirely appropriate demise therein; I also strongly suspect they have a valid First Amendment case. We’ll see what the ACLU does with it.

However it goes, this will be a fine case to point out the next time someone blatherates about the ACLU just being for godless liberal freaks. Clearly it’s for the fundamentalist conservative freaks, too.

43 thoughts on “Every Night the ACLU Lawyer Will Have to Come Home and Scrub Scrub Scrub

  1. John, there are already many cases that the ACLU has taken on (and helped win), defending the 1st Amendment rights of Christians (and other believers). But those don’t fit the convenient godless-and-Christian-hating-ACLU narrative, so most people don’t hear about them. One more example isn’t likely to matter much.

  2. *sigh*

    Why is the cases that require us to defend the ol’ Freedom of Speech are always started by douchebags?

    The Bill of Rights: Defending Douchebaggery Since 1791.

  3. I am not sure they have a valid case. Courts have upheld regulations that anti-abortion protesters must stay a certain distance away from the clinic.

    The Westboro Baptist gang is just as godless as any other organization anyone can rant about. The only difference is that they falsely claim to be Christian.

  4. Is there really a first amendment right to harass bereaved private citizens in the name of making a “political” point? These alleged humans drag unwilling private citizen into their sick quest for attention to their cause. Sorry, but there’s just nothing “first amendment” about this.

  5. Unfortunately, like it or not, the incestuous little cult that is the Westboro Baptist Church does have First Amendment rights like every other American should have. To turn our backs on that freedom and silence these sqauwking bastards would make us no better than the Taliban.

    I applaud the ACLU for not “playing favorites” when it comes to defending the Constitutional rights of everyone regardless of personal likes or dislikes. It can’t be easy for them.

    The ironic thing is, I find myself wrestling with a lot of the same rhetoric people used in their attacks on gay marriage. I’d love to be able to scream that what Fred Phelps does is immoral and evil and yadda yadda yadda. But, he still has the right to squawk, and I fortunately have the right not to listen.

    On a personal note, the only time I’d waste my precious urine on Fred Phelps would be if his head was on fire and my bladder was bursting with grain alcohol. I mean, how cool would it be to watch him running around all panicky and ablaze while I’m standing there giggling with evil glee and flames shooting out of my penis? That would be like super-hero cool, huh?

  6. While I agree that this church and its pastor need to have a reschooling on Christianity, if we limit speech for this nutbags, we limit speech for everybody. I deplore their tactics, especially since it was formulated to get on the TV Media and spout their hate. But freedom ain’t easy. You have to want it bad. This is a lesson the Iraqi’s haven’t learned yet, and unfortunately many here in the US have forgotten.

    The battle against the ACLU has nothing to do with the cases they take or their philosophy. The right-wing Christian Crusade against the ALCU is the first open skirmish on the battle against the Bill of Rights. They want to change the interpretation of Establishment of Religion Clause to mean the freedom to choose any flavor of Christianity you want. They also want to remove freedoms of speech to reduce criticism. They know the ACLU will fight them tooth-and-nail once they start the open assault to change the First Amendment. So they are trying to take out the opposition before the battle begins.

    The ever-enduring strength and Achilles-heel of the ACLU is that they will protect the right-wingers right to free speech even if it means they’ll use that speech to destroy the ACLU.

  7. Every asshole has the right to free speech as long as it comports with certain mandates including time, place manner.
    Theoretically, the Westboro Church freaks could be forced to be out at a distance because of time, place and manner, like John mentioned about anti-abortion activists.
    Of course, in some towns, these guys get hustled out by the police for their own safety, eventually, this is not gonna happen. A plausible scenario is the cops are gonna go a coffee break and the decedent’s family are gonna have a chat up close and personal with these “people” and the Westboro “Christians” are going to dislike the way the conversation goes and the local police and DA are going to refuse to press charges.

  8. I don’t know about calling these jag-offs “conservative”, or even Christian in the sense that the word is used by most Christians or non-Christians, John.

    Everyone on the right – the “fundamentalist conservative freaks” you were doubtless referring to – has adamantly disowned them:

    “National Public Radio referred Wednesday to the Westboro Baptist Church group as “conservative” – an odd formulation since as a group the Westboro Baptist Church has been thoroughly denounced by fellow Baptists and even the Reverend Jerry Falwell. They condemn President George W. Bush, refer to the Catholic Church as a “pedophile organization”, and call for death to homosexuals. Their jibes and taunts are obscene and menacing.”

    (from http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=4351)

    I’m from the “chase it out from under its rock” school of free speech, myself – let’s really hear what these mental midgets have to say, but frankly, I don’t think that the relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq or 9/11 rescue workers need to listen to them, so keep them at a safe distance.

    What’s that about 9/11 rescue workers? Oh, there’s this, from the Wikipedia entry on Phelps and his godforsaken clan:

    “After the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, Phelps’ group went to New York City to protest the rescue efforts going on there, mocking victims as they were taken from the rubble, shouting obscenities at rescue workers and demanding that those still alive be left to die.”

    Nice people. Speaking as one of those conservative freaks, I think they have a special spot in hell, no doubt.

  9. Rick McGinnis:

    “I think they have a special spot in hell, no doubt.”

    Filled with sodomizing devils with barbed genitalia.

  10. Jon & Mule Face

    I think they do have a case. Anti-abortion protesters are required to stand a short distance away from abortion center clients. They can’t physically bar passage, but they’re allowed to deliver their message.

    The same is presumably true of WBC. They can be kept from disrupting a service (e.g. by making so much noise that it can’t be heard) but they can’t be kept from delivering their hateful, despicable message.

  11. Rick, welcome to the big brush that tars everybody the same. We liberals learned that from the conservatives. These folks are conservative. Understand they dismiss GW from the right, not from the middle or the left. Their views on gays and Catholics are all the conservative line, just ones that aren’t so prominent anymore (except the gays and then they’re only just being open about it, Log Cabin Republicans take note). I’ll also remind you that Crazy Uncle Pat Robertson has also said these same things that these whack jobs have. Of course, Uncle Pat has also been “disowned” lately. Just as the conservative right wishes to paint all liberals with the big brush, conservatives need to see that they can also be painted in the same manner. Sorry man, doesn’t it suck when that happens?

    Also, we could hold discourses on how political parties aren’t reflective of their missions or the whole swaths of people they claim to represent and that politics isn’t left and right wing, but more like a Rorschach test. But in the black and white world of Fox News, that’s just not going to happen now.

  12. They almost certainly have a constitutional case, I’m afraid. The problem here is that people are trying to use police and the courts to enforce common decency, and those really are the wrong tools for the job. The right tools are shame and derision, and (since none of those have worked, and the offenses to common decency are extreme) communal violence. In times past, the problem of Fred Phelps would be quickly settled by some American Legion folks with baseball bats, with the local gendarmerie pointedly elsewhere. There aren’t many such left, but this really is a case for “one man-one stick” democracy.

  13. Dave

    In times past, the problem of Fred Phelps would be quickly settled by some American Legion folks with baseball bats, with the local gendarmerie pointedly elsewhere. There aren’t many such left, but this really is a case for “one man-one stick” democracy.

    Actually, this is precisely what Phelps and his crew try to invoke. I wrote a piece on this back in August of last year showing how Phelphs and his crew try to provoke a violent reaction then sue.

    Prolly call it “fundraising”.

    You know, like a bake sale….

  14. Cool Blue

    There also seems to be some reference to that in the Wikipedia article on them.

    I liked your piece until I got to the end of it. But there it devolved into the worst kind of Republican hackery. You supposed that Democrats like having them around, and argue that WBC’s dislike of Bush indicates he’s “doing something right.” Please!

  15. Everyone on the right – the “fundamentalist conservative freaks” you were doubtless referring to – has adamantly disowned them: …

    More than that, they’re more some weird Calvinist offshoot that fundamentalists, and they’re more messianic/cultic that conservative. It’s notable that Fred Phelps has had considerable involvement with the Democratic party: I suspect that like the nazis, communists, and theocrats he’s well off in dimensions other than the left/right one. It must be a depressing time to be a thinking man’s conservative; what with the right wing courting the theocrats and the fascists, but rick mcginnis is right: even those on the loony right have disowned Phelps.

  16. Their views on gays and Catholics are all the conservative line, just ones that aren’t so prominent anymore (except the gays and then they’re only just being open about it, Log Cabin Republicans take note).” (emphasis added)

    Thank you for clearing that up, The Amazing Mentor. Here I’ve been a libertarian-leaning conservative for pretty much my entire life and finally, thanks to your astounding mind reading ability, I now know I’m supposed to hate gay folks. Damn, guess I’ll have to sell all those hot girl-on-girl movies I’ve been collecting.

    Clue Bat: the big tent is larger than your petty profiling because it is made of individuals and not demographics

  17. Steve Buchheit -

    That “big brush” you’re referring to – is that the one that paints Cindy Sheehan with the same colour as your average blue-state registered Democrat? Because I don’t see Sheehan being disowned for her excesses with anything like the same enthusiasm that Christian conservatives have rejected Phelps.

    I’m sorry if you probably don’t see that as a fair comparison, but they’re both standard bearers for the same ugly, divisive fanaticism, in my view.

  18. I wrote a piece on this back in August of last year showing how Phelphs and his crew try to provoke a violent reaction then sue

    Ah, now the light dawns. They’ve found a loophole in the social contract, and are looking to monetize it. It wouldn’t have worked prior to the invention of cheap video cameras and low-cost interstate transportation. Clever, if depraved.

  19. Unfortunately, these may be the most universally hated fundy freaks in history because they celebrate the death of US troops and picket military funerals in search of notoriety.

    Don’t count on this case to improve the odor of the ACLU among the jingoistic warmongering branch of the right wing.

  20. You should (well, maybe not) check the threads at Volokh. Half the posters are having a conversation about First Amendment law, and the other half are explaining how the ACLU has a dastardly plot to preserve civil liberties for liberals by the means of defending the civil liberties of the most extreme right-wing nutcases. How this differs, operationally, from the ALCU’s explicit mission, of preserving civil liberties for everyone by the means of defending the civil liberties of the most extreme nutcases, is not made clear.

  21. People tend to confuse Liberal and Conservative with Democrat and Republican, respectively. They aren’t synonymous. I was a Conservative. I voted for Reagan and the first Bush. It was then I saw the party of fiscally conservative, even playing field, a bright future optimism get subverted by the religious right. As we’ve seen during the past six years of Republican control of all three branches, they are no longer fiscally conservative, they’ve titled the playing field, and they’ve sold their birth rights for trips to right golf courses. So, just because your conservative, you need to ask yourself if you still belong in the Republican Party? Do you still believe what they do?

    Rick, yeah, it’s the same brush as painting us all liberals as Cindy Sheehans. Our tent is big enough to keep her and Murtha in. This fall we’ll see if it’s big enough to keep Lieberman in as well, I think it is. The Democratic big tent encompasses people who hold all beliefs, pro-choice and anti-abortion, all different religions and those who hold no religion, people who want to legalize drugs and people who want to see harsher enforcement, hawks and doves. You’ll hear people discussing the straight pacifism line; people saying Afghanistan was right, Iraq was wrong (unofficial survey says it’s the majority), and those saying Iraq was worth it.

    The Republican big tent tends to eject their followers when their beliefs become inconvenient. Pat Robertson, Ken Lay, Jack Abramoff, Trent Lott (although he’s been given a reprieve), Pat Buchannon, and Tom Delay (trying to get him off the ticket) were all once mainstream conservatives (yes, Abramoff gave to Democrats, I’ll just point out the disparity in dollars) tossed aside, disowned. Delay will still raise money, but probably not outside Texas, and if he’s convicted probably not even then. Look at the dissolution of “Moderate” Republicans in the Congress.

    I personally have come to the liberal side of the argument from the conservative side. I change my affiliation to the Democratic Party because they hold the beliefs I’ve come to embrace and the methodology to achieve the goals of freedom for all, equality for all. You may not like how it’s done, you may see it as hand outs, but these are the hand ups that Reagan talked about. People gotta have boot-straps before they can pull themselves up by them.

    Clue Bat right back at ya Subman, Republicans fight to remove rights from Gays (the military’s don’t ask don’t tell, and if you do tell you’re gone, Gay Marriage, Adoption, Partner Benefits, freedom from discrimination in the workplace, fortunately they lost in trying to remove homosexuality from hate crimes legislation, should I go on?). Every time they do this it’s to “shore up the base.” This is why I say Republicans hate gays. This is from induction, not deduction. See note above about not all conservatives are Republicans. I was talking about the party. The above aren’t “giving gays special rights” it about ensuring they have the same rights as the rest of us.

    Most Log Cabin Conservatives talk about change from within, that they haven’t lost anything they had to begin with, and that they feel included. All the time the party they serve takes their money and their activism, and then works to undercut who they are because they (LCC) are focused on where the Republican Party should be.

    However, it seems that Phelps is a self proclaimed Democrat. Although he also seems to have a dislike for those he helped put into office. I can only say in my defense that I looked at his recent political ramblings and disjointed statements then knee-jerked placed him to the absolute far right without closer scrutiny and for that I apologize. And because of that, I step off the soap box.

  22. What the court will have to decide is do the rights of one group trump the rights of another.
    Does Phelp’s right to be an asshole trump the safety, and security of others. Does he have the right to harass and persecute another group in exercising of his rights? Do his rights come before the rights of the public or rights of the folks he is targeting?
    I would say no.
    Mind you I’m of the schooling that all rights are privileges in philosophical disguise.

  23. Rick McGinnis

    Gosh, I must’ve missed Cindy Sheahan saying that God hates wounded vets, or sending bereaved parents hatemail, or saying “Thank God for IEDs.”

    Or maybe I didn’t miss it, maybe you were just making a really cheap analogy between someone whose politics you disagree with and someone who is completely despicable.

  24. rick mcginnis wrote:

    Everyone on the right – the “fundamentalist conservative freaks” you were doubtless referring to – has adamantly disowned them

    Prior to 9/11, though, the Religious Reich was happy to support Phelps’ “Freedom to speak his religious views”. Any time it was suggested that he be prevented from picketing at gay funerals, they got up in arms about the “PC-police trying to muzzle Cristian Speech!”. But now he’s harassing people _they_ like, so it’s different. :-P

    The ACLU, on the other hand, would have stood against a law like this regardless of the political climate of the time.

    Dave wrote:
    In times past, the problem of Fred Phelps would be quickly settled by some American Legion folks with baseball bats, with the local gendarmerie pointedly elsewhere. There aren’t many such left, but this really is a case for “one man-one stick” democracy.

    That’s also how the local thugs would have solved the “problem”, of, say, “the Darkies tryin’ ta vote and steal our wimmin!” Personally, I’ll do without the mob “justice”.

  25. That’s also how the local thugs would have solved the “problem”, of, say, “the Darkies tryin’ ta vote and steal our wimmin!” Personally, I’ll do without the mob “justice”.

    Of course it’s a slippery slope. Everything is a slippery slope. Life is a luge.

  26. Jon Marcus -

    Despicable is a word I’d apply to Cindy Sheehan, who has eagerly wished for the defeat of U.S. troops in Iraq – meaning more deaths of young men and women like her son – and publicly revelled in her proximity to thug dictators like Chavez.

    Mike Crichton -

    I wouldn’t mind some proof of this broad, pre-9/11 support of Phelps from this monolithic religious right you speak of. Though frankly, your use of clever phrases like Religious Reich leads me to believe that proof isn’t needed for you to believe anything negative about conservative Christians.

    Steve Buchheit -

    I’m not a Republican (mainly because I’m a Canadian) so I can’t speak with authority about GOP tactics or exclusion, but if the party feels fit to disown Robertson, Buchanan and Lott, among others, that’s fine by me. At least it gives the impression of a party interested in cohesion and purpose, as opposed to the Democrats, whose big tent seems to shelter a rabble of disagreement on most days. Over 80 years later, they still seem to be happy to be defined by Will Rogers’ witticism: “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

  27. Republicans fight to remove rights from Gays (the military’s don’t ask don’t tell, and if you do tell you’re gone, Gay Marriage, Adoption, Partner Benefits, freedom from discrimination in the workplace, fortunately they lost in trying to remove homosexuality from hate crimes legislation, should I go on?).

    1. “Don’t ask – don’t tell” is not the military’s policy, it is a policy that was developed by the Clinton (i.e. Democrat) administration to pander to the gay demographic without having to change the law that prevents homosexuals from serving in the military. As a military man I tire of having to remind others that under our Constitution the military is subject to civilian control (The President is CinC and the Congress establishes laws and regulations to govern). The second Congress says “open your doors to gays” the military leaders will do what it takes to make it work.
    2. Please explain again how failing to change the definition of marriage is “remov[ing] rights from Gays.” Gay people have the same right to marry as stright people. One may accurately say that they don’t have the right to marry whomever they want, but neither does a brother and sister. Are the Repubicans also “removing” rights from siblings?
    3. So if homosexuality had been excluded from hate crime legislation you would have perceived that as having “removed” rights from gays? Odd, since “remove” in my dictionary is defined as taking away something, not as failing to provide something additional. Personally I oppose any hate crime legislation, as I believe punishment should be meted out according to the act and not the thought.

    Perhaps the word you meant to use was “deny” rather than “remove”, but that still opens up the question of if the provision or benefit or consideration you are advocating is indeed a “right”. As I stated earlier with regard to marriage, I don’t have the “right” to marry whomever I want, nor do I recongize that as being a fundamental “right” of anyone.

    Further, I found myself dumbfounded at your descriptions of the Republican and Democrat “tents”. From just a personal perspective I can definitely say that I’ve seen more heretical postings disappear down the memory hole on DU than LGF. On one topic alone (abortion) I can immediately think of two very high profile and popular Republicans (Schwarzenager and Guilliani) that are pro-choice but am left scratching my head to come up with their Democrat counterparts (national level, well-known pro-life candidates). Try the same thought experiment with almost any social issues, for example Affirmative Action. I imagine even you will have an easier time coming up with Republican politicians that support some type of Affirmative Action than Democrats that oppose it. And as for your claim that the Democrat tent includes “those saying Iraq was worth it,” well, that only applies until the faithful complete their purge of Sen. Lieberman.

    And speaking of the grounds under which either tent “tends to eject their followers when their beliefs become inconvenient,” I question why you seem to think the Republicans repudiating possibly racist statements by Trent Lott is worse than Democrats being silent on and embracing Cynthia McKinney despite her openly racist statements. Do you seriously offer the ostracism of Ken Lay and Jack Abramoff as examples of inconvenient beliefs? I’d rather say that their illegal activities demonstrated a lack of beliefs. Too bad the Democrats don’t see the drunken exploits of either Kennedy as being more than just “inconvenient.”

    All the time the [Republicans] takes [the LCC's] money and their activism, and then works to undercut who they are because they (LCC) are focused on where the Republican Party should be. (emphasis added)

    Here we get to the crux of your contention with Rupublicans. This is obviously a statement of your perspective, because it requires that one not only agree that the Republicans are undercutting gays but also that being gay defines who one is. Given your proclivity for capitalizing the word “gay” when referring to a demographic I daresay you do believe this. However, the gay Republicans I’ve met tend more to see themselves as individuals rather than part of a monolithic demographic. Yes, they are gay individuals and therefore have concerns and issues that may not be shared by many heterosexual individuals, but on a whole they don’t seem to feel that a single aspect of their life, and one that is largely personal and private, is such a clearly defining indicator of who they are.

    I still say the Democrat “big tent” is based on the demographic while the Republican “big tent” is based on the individual.

  28. rick mcginnis

    You compare Cindy Sheehan to Fred Phelps, saying she “has eagerly wished for the defeat of U.S. troops in Iraq – meaning more deaths of young men and women

    See, there’s the difference. Phelps has explicitly prayed that Americans will die. You have to add the your own “meaning” to Sheehan’s statements, since she says she doesn’t want more deaths.

    Unless your claiming secret knowledge of her true goals, there’s a fundamental difference between the two. You might wish those you disagree with (or even those who you believe to be dangerously stupid) would be disowned by all sides. But that’s not going to happen.

    I think that’s a good thing. Phelps and WBC are, and deserve to be, in a class by themselves.

  29. submandave

    Sorry for the separate post. I missed your lastest.

    re Don’t as don’t tell: Good point. I winced when I saw that attributed to Republicans.

    re Gay Marriage. There’s a post here with a long long long series of comments a couple of weeks back. I don’t have much to add. But saying that gays have the same marriage rights as straights is rhetorical silliness. They don’t have the right to marry the person they love. And yes, incest laws also “remove rights”, but there are sound biological & societal reasons for doing so.

    Re Democrats who don’t toe the party line, try Bob Casey on abortion, Joe Biden on Iraq, Ben Campbell on both?

    Re Ken Lay being kicked out, check back a week or so for John’s post on the conservative preacher who compared Lay to Jesus and MLK. That was at a service attended by many prominent Republicans.

    And Abramoff got “kicked out” only when he started turning evidence against Republicans. That’s the ultimate crime, I guess.

  30. 1. “Don’t ask don’t tell” was Clinton’s compromise with the uniformed staff and Congress to get a policy that no longer hunted out gas form the military. Remember compromise? Doesn’t happen much anymore. Back when a 5-person majority wasn’t considered a mandate compromises were the way things were done. You may remember the consternation when Clinton was developing the policy and the numerous still serving officers who said they would walk if Clinton introduced an open gay policy in the military. As a former military man myself, I know how it works as well. Should I discuss the race-relations school?
    2. Courts have determined that Gays (and I only capitalize because we are discussing the group, not the individual) have the right to same sex marriage. Confusing the issue by equating it to illegal activities (such as incest) is a non-sequitur unless you wish to re-criminalize homosexual behavior. This is why you see the laws being proposed to ban same sex marriage are Constitutional Amendments. They need that level to be enforceable. So to fight for this law is to remove rights that have already been determined to be there.
    3. I agree with you that hate crime legislation shouldn’t be necessary, neither should the law that doubles criminal penalties if a violent crime is committed against a pregnant woman. However, we can show a chain of events that the crime is precipitated (bad word but I can’t think of another one) from the event that the law includes. That is a crime of assault on a person simply because of who they are is different from other assault. It looks the same, but the motivations are different. If we wish to see our laws and punishment as a deterrent we need to have laws to cover these crimes.
    Hate crimes laws are meant to give continuity to rights. That is, we make it against the law to beat up on somebody just because you don’t like who they are different. As a society we recognize that this type of crime is special. To have removed Gays from that legislation (which covers other groups as well) would have specifically denied Gays the right to live in the open, like everybody else.
    For Pro-Life Democrats, there’s a whole organization http://www.democratsforlife.org. Most Democrats who are anti-abortion believe that it’s a religious choice that shouldn’t be forced on others, there are others like Sen. Nelson. This is a weakness within the platform of Pro-choice. There was a former Governor of Penn. who was Democrat and Pro-Life, I’d have to search to find his name.
    As for Affirmative Action, if you ask the question on hard-quotas you’ll find some disagreement within the tent.
    Liebermam’s political rally was also well attended by the “stars” of the Democratic Party. We, as a party, embrace him and his views and accept that he can have those views and still be a Democrat.
    I think it’s also rather interesting that you try to repudiate my point about the Republican big tent tossing out those whose views have become inconvenient by asking why the Democrats haven’t done the same. Isn’t that my point?
    As for the crux of my contention with my comment about the Log Cabin Republicans, it was more of a side. Again, I capitalize Gay because it’s a group we are discussing, and using the capitalization is proper when discussing the demographic because it is a proper noun. And being gay does define someone; just not with the stereotypical behaviors or beliefs you’re probably ascribing them. Is it the only thing? Not by a long-shot. Is it the most important, probably not by the time they’ve accepted being gay and are comfortable with it. I think it’s also interesting that you missed my comment about the LCR being focused on where the RP should be (see, there’s the point where I discuss that being gay isn’t their only defining factor). Your friends are individuals, just like my friends who are gay, as are all of the people we know. We were talking groups, again you confused the two.

    I still say the Democrat “big tent” is based on the demographic while the Republican “big tent” is based on the individual.

    That’s your opinion. Mine differs.

    Rick, I’ve been thinking about that quote since I wrote my last post, and it’s still true today as it was80 years ago. It’s a really big tent. We don’t require loyalty statements or put purity tests in our requirements (although there is a movement afoot to do so, they haven’t gained much ground).

  31. Is harrassment a first amendment right?

    I phrase the question this way because so many people seem to be missing the point. It’s amazing to me that once somebody metions the first amendment everyone backs off & says we can’t stop it. But is Phelps’ group able to express their views even while being blocked from doing so in an inappropriate time & place? They are still able to express themselves – just not make themselves noxious at such a time.

    Many localities require permits to have public demonstrations. Frequently, the demonstrators, as a condition for approval of the permit, must agree to confine their activities far enough away from a public event so as not to diturb it. These requirements have been held to be constitutional. All rights must be balanced – first amendment rights do NOT trump all others.

  32. Mule Face

    Many localities require permits to have public demonstrations. Frequently, the demonstrators, as a condition for approval of the permit, must agree to confine their activities far enough away from a public event so as not to diturb it. These requirements have been held to be constitutional. All rights must be balanced – first amendment rights do NOT trump all others.

    I suspect that this is precisely the context within which the Courts will view this.

  33. And being gay does define someone; just not with the stereotypical behaviors or beliefs you’re probably ascribing them.

    We all come each conversation with our own mental baggage. I try and address the contents of another’s points without assuming the heart of their argument. I challenge you to find anything I have said that indicates I ascribe any “stereotypical behaviors or beliefs” to gays as a group or individual. This is simply a projection of beliefs that you assume to be common, dare I say stereotypical, of conservatives and Republicans.

    I think it’s also rather interesting that you try to repudiate my point about the Republican big tent tossing out those whose views have become inconvenient by asking why the Democrats haven’t done the same. Isn’t that my point?

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough, but I don’t think rebuking and even ostracizing someone for illegal activities is simply a matter of inconvenience. As for “tossing out,” the last person I remember being denied the right to call themselves a Republican was David Duke. Surely you’re not saying he would have been welcomed, kept and supported in the Democrat party? The difference I was pointing out was that when a Republican (e.g. Trent Lott) made a racially insensitive comment he was rebuked (not “tossed out”) but when a Democrat (e.g. Cynthia McKinney) did so she was defended. Following the logic of your argument it seems you would rather defend the indefensible simply for the sake of your “big tent,” and I think that is wrong.

  34. In times past, the problem of Fred Phelps would be quickly settled by some American Legion folks with baseball bats, with the local gendarmerie pointedly elsewhere.

    Yes, in times past we had the glorious tradition of beating up on protestors with whose message or methods we disagreed. Civil-rights protestors, suffragists, that sort of thing. I hear Ann Coulter has been trying to revive the baseball-bat method of discourse, too.

    Like the First Amendment, the rule that we don’t beat people up while the police look away just because we think they’re assholes applies to all kinds of people. Including actual assholes.

  35. submandave – republicans have consistantly blocked GLBT inclusion into existing hate crime laws. This is undeniable.

    GLBT citizens are stetistically more likley to be targeted by a hate crime than ANY minority. The figures are simple. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hatecm.htm#bias

    Hate crime laws are on the books because a hate crime targets not jsut an individual, but an entire community. They are crimes of intimidation, and as the statistics indicate, there’s a massive, nationwide campaign of violent intimidation against GLBT people.

    The Republican party, and the right wing religious conservatives who make up the core of the Republican party have been at the forefront of either denying that the campaign of intimidation exists, or in many cases, activley supporting it.

    The situation is comprable to the campaign of intimidation and repression against black civil rights activists in the 50′s and 60′s. Not surprising, when you consider that the roots of both groups of bigots are intertwined.

  36. “Hate crime laws are on the books because a hate crime targets not jsut an individual, but an entire community. They are crimes of intimidation, and as the statistics indicate, there’s a massive, nationwide campaign of violent intimidation against GLBT people.”

    In other words: terrorism. I think the term “hate crime” is a misnomer: hate is often involved true, but it is the terrorism aspect of the crimes that calls for a response from the police and courts.

  37. Regarding hate crimes, it’s often said we should just prosecute the underlying crime. That might work with something like Matthew Shepard’s or James Byrd’s murder. Everyone agrees that torture-murders are pretty bad things.

    But what about lesser crimes that, as Andrew points out, are intended to terrorize people or communities. For example, let’s say a group of kids spray “Class of ’07 Rules!” on the side of their school. And another group of kids spray swastikas on the side of the local synagogue. Are those the same crime?

  38. rick mcginnis said:

    Despicable is a word I’d apply to Cindy Sheehan, who has eagerly wished for the defeat of U.S. troops in Iraq – meaning more deaths of young men and women like her son –

    May I ask where the _hell_ you’re getting that from? Have you actually read her saying those things, and if so, where? Somehow, I think the dreaded Main Stream Media would’ve put it on the front page of just about _any_ publication if she had.

    I wouldn’t mind some proof of this broad, pre-9/11 support of Phelps from this monolithic religious right you speak of.

    Cast your mind back to 1998. After Phelps’ desecration of Matthew Shepard’s funeral, how did “Christian Conservatives” react whenever it was suggested that protesting funerals should be restricted? Robertson, Fallwell, and Limbaugh all decried that as the “Politically correct Thought Police” Attempting to “Muzzle Christian Freedom of Speech”.

    But, since you seem to have the ability to know when people really mean the opposite of what they seem to be saying, perhaps you can explain how that _isn’t_ support?

  39. I love Rev/Pastor/Whatever Phelps. Perhaps the single funniest Wikipedia read I ever had.

    What a goddamn nightmare. I just wish that the right bikers would take up the Patriot Rider colors. I’d like to see an 80 year old guy repeatedly smashed in the testicles with a big chain.

    We have ways of dealing with people like Phelps in the Mossad.

  40. Westboro Baptist Cult in the news again. This time for Shirley Phelps-Roper Doper stating that they are going to protest the funerals for the Amish children that were executed unless given radio time to expouse their hateful beliefs. And yes, she said they deserved to die. Topeka, how are they able to function and thrive in your community?

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